Going Against the Grain

But the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there. Then it will be, that of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ the same shall go with you; and of whomever I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ the same shall not go.” So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Everyone who laps from the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set apart by himself; likewise everyone who gets down on his knees to drink.” And the number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men; but all the rest of the people got down on their knees to drink water. Then the Lord said to Gideon, “By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other people go, every man to his place.” – Judges 7:4-7 NKJV.  

Against the grain is an interesting phrase and according to phrases.org “brings to mind the image of the grain in wood, which, if planed in the wrong direction, will tear rather than lie smoothly.” It means to go “against one’s inclination or natural tendency.” God calls upon His people at times to do the unexpected and to go against the grain of the world‘s expectations. Gideon went against the grain when he was obedient to God’s instructions. Gideon had 32,000 men but even this army was not enough to match the men arrayed against them. Judges 7:12 describes the opposing force as “numerous as locusts; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the seashore in multitude.” But God reduced, instead of increasing Gideon’s army. He reduced the thousands to only 300 men. Yet we know that God gave Gideon and his 300 men complete victory over the Midianite army.  

Joshua went against the grain when God instructed him to attack Jericho in a strange way and he obeyed. They were to march around the city once a day for six days but on the seventh day they were to march around Jericho seven times. The seven priests were to blow the trumpets and the people were to shout, and as we know the walls came tumbling down.  

Jonah was also called upon by God to do the strange and unusual – to go against the grain of the world‘s expectations. He was to go to Nineveh and preach to the hated enemy. Jonah thought that he would rather die than do that, and so he headed in the other direction. He was swallowed up by a great fish and in the belly of the fish he had a change of heart. Jonah then went to Nineveh with God’s message “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be over thrown.” One of the greatest revivals in history broke out and those evil people got right with God.  

Many other men and women of God have gone against the grain of the world to be obedient to their Lord. People like Noah, David, Esther, Peter, and Paul were all faithful in obeying God even though the world thought they were foolish.  

The point is that when God calls it could be something the world will think is laughable. But make no mistake, if we are faithful to be obedient to God’s call, the world most likely will not be laughing at the results of our obedience. The Midianites were not laughing after the battle was over. The people of Jericho were no longer laughing at those crazy Israelites when the walls came down. And, the Ninevites called a fast and sat in sackcloth and ashes when they heard the one sentence sermon of Jonah. 

Is there something that God has been speaking to you about, but you have put it off because you think that you will be ridiculed? Maybe now is the time for you to move forward in faith by going against the grain of the world by following the example of the great men and women of God who have gone before you.

(Obedience to God may mean going against the grain of the world’s expectations.)

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